Friday, September 11, 2009

Both Ways

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It is the title of a short story collection by Maile Meloy. They are gorgeously simple stories, and I don't think one turned out the way I'd hoped. It is not about simple indecisiveness; it is about irreconcilable longings. The book’s epigraph is from a poem by A. R. Ammons: “One can’t have it both ways, and both ways is the only way I want it.”

These stories came to me at just the right time. I am beginning to understand that I can't have it both ways. I want to be kind, compassionate, understanding of human frailty AND I want to have a life free of tragedy or major disappointment in myself. I had the latter for quite some time. Now that the happy bubble has popped, I realize God has given me quite a greater share of the former. In the last week or so I’ve heard of an infant with a dire medical crisis, a friend who is getting divorced, and a stranger injured in an auto accident near my home. News of each one almost put me on the floor in tears because I could sympathize with the feeling of intense pain and hopelessness.

I feel myself both less and more than I was.

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Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.